Processes & Procedures Egypt
Albert Cook is a regular contributor and in this report he offers some useful advice when approaching and transiting the Suez Canal.
Published 5 years ago
Ensure you have agreed on all fees and appointed an agent before you arrive in Egypt. If you do not, then expect to get ripped off!
Arriving from the North into Port Said:
Although Port Said is a 24/7 Port, try to time your arrival between approx. 0700 -0900. This will mean that:
- The Southbound traffic should already be underway / gone
- That the Agent will be up and about.
- The Agent will have the whole of the day to do all the necessary paperwork etc. to hopefully allow transit of the canal the next day.
The best and safest route into Port Said area is as described in the Red Sea Pilot book page 255. Remember to hoist you “Q” flag before arrival and of course the Egyptian courtesy flag.
When you are approximately 2 miles from the Port Said entry channel, you will need to call port control on VHF Channel 12 and ask for permission to proceed to Port Fouad Yacht Club. They will probably ask for boat details (name, flag, number of persons on board etc.).
They may allow you to proceed on your own to Port Fouad. or may require you to have a pilot – in which case a pilot boat will most likely meet you as you proceed down the entrance channel towards Port Fouad. Be careful and make sure you have fenders out, the pilot boat operators do not worry about damage!
When you get to Port Fouad Yacht Club you will need to moor stern-to, using your own anchor. Make sure you are well off the quay; the swell gets very big due to passing boats etc. Many a boat has been damaged by being too close. If you have a pilot on board, do not allow him to rush you. Normally they will not help with ropes etc. There should be no fee for the pilot (it’s in theory covered in your canal fees), but you may if you wish to give him a gift (Baksheesh). The choice is yours.
If you are lucky the agent will be at the Yacht club and will assist with ropes etc. Baksheesh for them comes later, but a thank you will not go amiss.
The agent will ask for all the necessary paperwork. Passports, Boat registration (must be original), Crew list etc. You will need to inform the agent where you intend to go once you leave the Canal (at Port Suez). It will be either Hurghada, Port Ghalib or straight through to another country if you do not wish to stop in Egypt. The agent will arrange for your Port Clearance documentation for whichever destination you decide. If you intend to stop in Egypt, the agent will take your passport to Immigration where he will be given a shore pass for each crew member. He will then take all crew to the Immigration Office (short ferry ride across the harbour, it’s free of charge). At Immigration your Passport will have to be stamped with a 30-day entry Visa.
Sometime later the Suez Canal measurer will arrive. He will, in theory, measure your boat, ask questions and leave. Be nice to him, if you upset him to expect a higher cost. You will not know the cost of the Transit until it is time to pay.
You may also be visited by Customs, Navy (weapons inspection, do not take any weapons). There is no fee associated with this. DO NOT take a Drone into Egypt, they will confiscate it and you will never see it again.
When the agent asks for their fee will depend on what time you are expected to transit the canal for Ismailia. If it is early morning (6 am etc.) you will pay in the evening, if it’s 10 am or later you will probably pay first thing in the morning, just before you transit.
Agent Fees should be around:
- Suez Canal Fee – Miyagi Moon in 2017 (13.2 x 4.1x 2.1) paid 240$
- Agents Fee –70$
- Port Clearance – 40$
- Entry Visa – 25$ each.
- Yacht Club – 21$ / night < 16m, 30$ / night >16m
Payment can be made by Credit Card, but there will be a surcharge (3%). Check with your agent prior to arriving. If paying cash, make sure you bring sufficient with you as you cannot get US$’s via banks in Egypt. Although it is possible to get US$’s, Euro’s etc. via money exchange shops.
Arriving from the South into Port Ghalib:
Try to e-mail Port Ghalib at least 24 hours prior to arrival to warn them of your impending arrival.
Port Ghalib is in theory open 24/7 but it is best to try to arrive early morning. When you are about 1 hour away contact Port Control and inform them that you are coming. They will probably ask for boat details (name, flag, number of persons on board etc.) and inform you to call them back when you are at the entrance buoys.
From the entrance buoys, you will be directed to a berth. Mooring bow or stern-to using a mooring buoy. There will be no assistance so you will need to do it all yourself.
Once moored up you need to go to the Harbour office and complete formalities. Customs etc. will want to visit and check your boat. You will not be allowed outside the Marina or to leave the Port until you have your visa’s and /or Cruising Permit.
Once you have your Visa’s and Cruising Permit you can proceed North to Hurghada / Port Suez at a leisurely pace. Hurghada is worth a visit.
Make sure you have appointed an agent and agreed on fees before moving onto Hurghada / Port Suez. If you do not, then expect to get ripped off!
Fees at Port Ghalib should be:
Customs Clearance, Check in – 80 us$ / boat
Cruising Permit – 30 us$ / month (they can only issue a 1-month permit).
Visa – 25 us$ / person
There is no agent everything is done by Port Control.
Transiting the Canal (South Bound):
Port Said to Ismalia
Every boat transiting the canal has to have a Pilot. The cost of the Pilot is included within the Suez Canal fee. You are required to provide him with food and drink during the transit. Like all humans, he may well require the use of the toilet. Do not let him wander around your boat un-escorted, take him to the toilet, let him do his business and escort him back. He may also wish to pray, he will most likely do this outside. Leave him to get on with it. He will probably want some water to wash (hands, feet, face etc.) prior to praying. Provide him with a bottle of water.
The pilot will arrive at Port Fouad, you will be introduced, he will then ask you to leave and follow his instructions. He may ask to take the helm, the choice is yours. We do not allow this. Remember if he crashes your boat he takes no responsibility, you are the skipper and are always the one responsible.
He will try to make you go as fast as possible. Do not be forced into anything. It is your boat, it’s your fuel, it’s your money. We tell the pilot that we will be travelling at 5-6 knots – no more.
The pilot will direct you to keep the boat to one side of the canal, sail as close to the canal markers as you feel comfortable with. Outside the markers it gets shallow.
The journey from Port Said to Ismailia is some 45 Nm, at 6 knots this will take approx. 7 – 8 hours. When you get to Ismailia you have the choice of going stern or bows-to at the yacht club. If no spaces are available, you will need to use your own anchor. If you are lucky you will get assistance with the shorelines, but picking up and trying to the mooring buoy will be down to you. The man who takes your lines expects a gift (baksheesh). 2$ works.
When the Pilot is about to leave your boat – this is the time to give him any gift(s) (Baksheesh) which you deem fit. We gave 10$ plus some chocolate and a Cap.
At Ismailia, they will ask when you want a pilot for the next leg (Ismailia to Port Suez). You can stay as long as you wish at Ismailia (21-30$ per night depending on the size of the boat). However, check with the agent at Port Said if there are any restrictions in respect to going out of the Yacht club. In the past, they have for security reasons stopped foreigners from going out of the yacht club. If this is the case, I would not recommend staying and ask to do the next leg the next day.
If there are no restrictions I would certainly stay 2 nights, just to walk around Ismailia and maybe get some provisions or even a meal out.
If you have chosen not to stop in Egypt, you will not have a visa and consequently will not be allowed out of the Yacht Club.
Ismailia to Port Suez
The next leg (Ismailia to Port Suez) could be an early morning start (we left at 5 am). A new pilot will come to the Yacht Club. Again you will be introduced and he will ask you to leave. Same rules as the first leg. Make sure you have paid the Yacht Club Fees.
The journey is again approximately 45 Nm.
At Port Suez, you have to go stern or bows-to their floating pontoon. The agent and Kaka, the Yacht Club “manager”, will be there in a tender and will direct you to a berth. He will take your stern/bow rope and tie it to a mooring buoy. The agent may also be there to assist with the shore ropes. Again the Pilot will leave once you have moored up.
A note on Kaka. Kaka is a pleasant enough guy, but he is always on the take and looking for gifts. If you get fuel here it is done via the agent (although Kaka does all the work, filling and carrying jerry cans). Make sure you pay the agent not Kaka and make sure Kaka gives you the correct quantity. He does like to try and short measure.
Again, you can stay at Port Suez as long as you wish, we found 2 nights were sufficient. If you wish to visit Cairo this is the place to do it from. Prince of the Red Sea offered to organise a trip to see the pyramids etc. They also provided, free of charge, a 13 seater minibus to take us shopping in Port Suez (although we were here as part of a Rally).
Transiting the Canal North Bound:
The process for North Bound traffic is the same as the southbound. However, most will check out at Port Suez which means:
You can go straight out to the Mediterranean Sea without stopping at Port Said.
You cannot leave the Yacht Clubs at either Port Suez or Ismailia.
The fees payable should be more or less the same as Port Said fees, less Visa costs.
Prior to arriving at Port Suez, contact your agent and provide him with an Estimated Time of Arrival. On arrival at Port Suez go straight to the Yacht Club – there is no requirement to contact Port Control. The agent and Yacht Club Manager (Kaka) will be waiting for you.
Gulf of Suez – Port Suez to Hurghada
You can leave Port Suez any time you wish. The only fees payable are the Yacht Club Fees, payable to Kaka. He should give you a receipt.
You sail from Port Suez to Hurghada via the Gulf of Suez. You can stop at any anchorage on a route. You cannot go ashore anywhere on the route, you cannot stop at any Island except for Gifton Island at Hurghada. If there are Military near an anchorage, they will most likely come and check paperwork. Be polite and courteous and all should be okay. They may in extreme circumstances ask you to leave.
In theory, you are supposed to get to Hurghada as quickly as possible. We have taken 10 days without any problems.
Since our last visit to Egypt (2015), the procedures for Hurghada have changed. Previously, you sailed straight to Hurghada marina where you would be met by the Agent. Once in the Marina, the agent would arrange for Customs, Coastguard etc. to visit your boat and Cruising Permits would be issued. You would then be taken by the agent to the Immigration Office downtown to get your Visa Extension. A job has done.
The new procedures are:
You must go to the new Hurghada Port and check in prior to going to the Marina unless you checked in at Port Ghalib. The Port Officials do not start until 0900 hours and finish at 1700 hours, so time your arrival accordingly.
You are supposed to go to their quay. Unfortunately, this quay is too high and dangerous. If you stick to your guns and refuse to go on the quay, they will either let you raft alongside the Pilot boat or they will provide a tender for the officials (including your agent) to come to your boat. At Hurghada they are looking for Alcohol, if you have what they consider too much (more than 4 bottles) they will seal the rest in one of your lockers where it has to stay until you leave Egypt. Eventually, you will be given permission to leave the Port and go to the Marina. You cannot leave the Port without their Permission.
From Hurghada Port, you make your way to Hurghada Marina where you will be met by the Marina staff (in a RIB) who will guide you to a berth. They will take your lines to tie them to the mooring buoy(s) and the quay. bow or stern-to.
If you have come from Port Ghalib you can go directly to the Marina.
When you are at the Marina, the agent will return to you all documentation used at the Port (Original Boat Registration and Passports) along with your Cruising Permit. This will be a copy, the original is held by the agent until you leave Hurghada.
Fees at Hurghada:
Agent Fees: 80$
Expenses (Tips): 30$
Visa Extension (6-month Multi-Entry): 25$
Cruising Permit – 30$ or 50$ for >18m. You need the Permit to sail around to Hurghada and the rest of Egypt to Port Ghalib.
Hurghada Marina Fees are:
300$ / month if less than 16m, 400$ 16-17m, 500$ 17-18m, 600$ 18-19m
Daily rates 24$, 32$, 38$, 45$ respectively.
Electric & Water metered.
The Marina, like the Port, is only open to come and go between the hours of 0900 & 1700 hours. Time your arrivals and departures accordingly.
Sailing from, in and around Hurghada:
You cannot leave the Marina without Coastguard permission.
If you wish to go out of the Marina to sail the following is applicable: Contact the agent 24 hours before. Inform him what you intend to do, where you are going and when you should be back. He will obtain permission from the Coastguard.
If you need to stay out longer just contact the agent again and inform him of change.
Also, inform the Marina.
Remember you cannot go on any island other than Gifton Island.
On the day in question, tell the Marina you wish to leave, they will come and slip your mooring lines having checked with the Coastguard.
If you are going out of the Hurghada area the agent will give you the original cruising permit.
Do NOT go without permission. Big Fines.
Do not go outside the Hurghada area without the original cruising permit. Big Fines.
There are no fees for this, it is part of the agent’s original fee.
Checking Out of Egypt at Hurghada:
This can be done using your agent, the fees should be around 240$. Note from here you must sail directly out of Egyptian waters.
Checking out at Port Ghalib:
From Port Said via Suez Canal, you will be using your Port Clearance to sail directly to Port Ghalib.
From Hurghada, you will be using your Cruising Permit to sail to Port Ghalib via as many locations as you wish, with no time constraint other than the length of your cruising permit.
Try to e-mail Port Ghalib at least 24 hours prior to arrival to warn them of your impending arrival.
Port Ghalib is in theory open 24/7 but it is best to try to arrive early morning. About 1 hour before you arrive at Port Ghalib contact Port Control and inform them that you are coming. They will probably ask for boat details (name, flag, number of persons on board etc.) and inform you to call them back when you are at the entrance buoys.
From the entrance buoys, you will be directed to a berth. Mooring Bow or Stern to using a mooring buoy. There will be no assistance you will need to do it all yourself. Once moored up you need to go to the Harbour office and complete formalities.
Check out Fees should be 80$. There is no agent, everything is done by Port Control.
Berthing Fees are the same as Hurghada Marina.
On departure from Port Ghalib, you must sail directly out of Egyptian waters.
Suez Canal Fees:
Once you are measured you go on record so do not get measured again. In 2012 we paid 375$, in 2014 we paid 325$ and this time we paid 240$. Each time the Suez Canal Tonnage rate was 8.5$. Work that out. We requested from both Felix and Prince of the Red Sea our actual measured tonnage. Felix answered by telling us to get it from our last transit i.e. Prince of the Red Sea. Prince of the Red Sea informed us that it was 28 tons. At 8.5$ per ton, our fee should, therefore, have been 238$.
It should also be noted that the canal fee is a return fee so as long as you return within 6 months your return transit is free. You still, however, have to pay agent fees.
SY Miyagi Moon
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of noonsite.com or the World Cruising Club
Related to following destinations: Canal, Egypt, Hurghada, Ismailia, Mediterranean Coast (Egypt), Port Ghalib, Port Said, Red Sea (Egypt), Suez Canal